By KEVIN THOMPSON
Scott City has won four state titles in wrestling.
The first three were at the Class 4A level — in 1990, 2001 and 2004.
The fourth was this year at the Class 3-2-1A level.
At the helm for all of them has been coach Jon Lippelman, who just completed his 32nd year as the Beavers head man.
But just like always, Lippelman credits his wrestlers with the success of the program and thinks of himself as more of a facilitator.
With all humility, he takes little credit for his wrestlers' successes, but Lippelman knows that he, too, has a role with each season's teams.
"A lot of old guys have told me many times that you don't see many donkeys winning horse races," he laughed. "You've got to have the horses."
Getting those "horses" is the job of the wrestlers. His job is that of manager.
"Coaching-wise, you've got to get them the mindset. You've got to set them goals all along the way. It does no good just to say where you're going to finish at the end," he explained. "There're things you've got to get done all along the way."
The coaching staff also works on getting the boys' bodies prepared to come off a bus after a long trip, how to raise the heart rate and get a sweat going to be ready to compete, not just crawling out of the stands, he said.
"You've got to tell them through hard times what they're trying to get done," he added. "There's always discouragement all the way through. It's part of our job to make them understand it's all a process. If everything went your way, it wouldn't be called 'competing.'"
That philosophy served him and the team well in state this year. While the Beavers only took six wrestlers to Hays, they competed well. Four made it to the semifinal round, three to the championship match, and one took home a title.
All six, he said, deserved a spot on the medal stand.
"The regional's tough," he said. "3-2-1A squeezes a lot of good wrestlers into one regional every year. Once we went through there, we knew when we finished out they all had a chance to do well at state. We weren't going there to make our best effort; we were going there to get things done."
Those included freshman James Jurgens (113 pounds, second place), sophomore Alex Kough (120, fourth), senior Clay Mulligan (132, second), senior Manny Turner (160 pounds), junior Michael McEachern (220, fifth), and senior Luke Hayes (285, first).
The attitude of these six, Lippelman said, wasn't going to be to say afterwards "if we only...," but to "leave it all on the mat."
A competitive schedule, such as big meets in Lexington, Neb., and the Rocky Welton Neb. and the Rocky Welton Invitational (Garden City), with its strong field of competitors from a multi-state area, helped prepare the Beavers for the competitiveness of a tough regional and state tournament, he added.
"We were ready for this thing," he said about the nature of this year's state tournament. "We felt that we had prepared them well."
Setting a goal early in the season of winning a state title isn't priority one, Lippelman said.
"We work more individually," he said. "The team goal is to put together the best team we can. We might have 'headliners' but they can't do it by themselves. If you're going to win big tournaments, you're going to have to have other people scoring."
In the practice room, he added, when they talk about workouts and drilling, all wrestlers have to be a great partner. That will pay off for the entire team in the end.
"This was a nice group. They worked really well at doing that this year," he said.
Senior leadership in two-time champion Hayes, last year's title winner and this year's runner-up Mulligan, and first-time qualifier Turner should inspire the younger wrestlers for next year, Lippelman said.
"They watched how it was done, and that ought to set us up well for the next three seasons after those three seniors move on because they've seen what it takes," he said. "They know it will produce results."
Does that mean more state titles?
"There's always room for more," Lippelman laughed. "As long as you can get up in the morning with a smile on your face and get after it, there's always more out there."